Not surprisingly, permanent membership on the UN Security Council is a coveted international plum, and those countries that enjoy membership are empowered to virtually veto any substantive action on the part of the Security Council single-handedly (Carlson 9). In the alternative, if the Russian foreign policymakers accepted Germany's bid for membership, it might swing the balance of power from the existing China-Russia (and sometimes France) cabal that exists today and would, from Russia's perspective, seriously undermine their international standing. Russia could recommend that Germany assume a more prominent role in the UN as a more active member of an existing peacekeeping function or increase its commitment to the NATO alliance; this approach, though, might well play into hands of German foreign policymakers in the future as discussed further below.
Germany. Today, German foreign policymakers are assumed to have embraced the three fundamental attributes associated with civilian power over military rule: (a) the willingness to share sovereignty with supranational institutions; (b) an unwillingness to employ military force in the pursuit of national objectives; - and the rejection of balance of power politics in favor of the rule of law, defined by Sperling (2003) as a "civilianized" international politics (124). In spite of this rejection of military force for strictly nationalistic goals, German foreign policy has increasingly been geared to using the nation's military forces to support regional and global peacekeeping initiatives, a fact that will undoubtedly play a role in its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. For example, "Despite the strains over the Iraq war," Sands (2004) reports, "Germany and the United States were able to cooperate on a number of other fronts. German and U.S. intelligence services have worked together in the global war on terrorism, and German troops serve in the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan" (6). An alternative to becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council would be for Germany to continue this enhanced role, particularly in conjunction with the existing U.S.-led coalition, perhaps in its NATO-member capacity until such a time as its relevance and importance in this role overcame any existing protestations to the contrary by the Russian UN contingent.
The citizens of the United States have largely been insulated from attacks on its shores, with Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001 being some of the only such incidents. Not surprisingly, there remain some profound misperceptions concerning how and why the former Soviet Union behaved in the paranoid manner that it did following World War II, but the fact remains that the Soviet Union and its Russian successor are confronted with threats to its security on many fronts, and some of these have become increasingly aggravated in recent years as well. Indeed, the deaths of 20,000,000 Russian citizens during World War II is not something that is quickly forgotten by the Russia foreign policymakers today. Likewise, Americans may not readily understand why the German people marched off lemming-like in two world wars in the 20th century without understanding the powerful forces at play on the European continent, then and now. While the pundits continue to debate how best to prosecute an increasingly violent war against terrorism, Germany's bid for permanent membership on the UN Security Council will likely continue to be opposed by Russia because of these perceived threats to its national interests, and perhaps more importantly from a social reality perspective, as a blow to its prestige and standing in the region and in the world. In reality, then, neither Russia nor Germany can be expected to pursue any alternative course of action beyond their stated positions relative to Germany's demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, but both can be reasonably expected to continue to use the UN forum to further their own foreign policy objectives.
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